More threads by HotthenCold


Hi there,

I couldn't really fit the exact nature of the problem in to the title, so I will elaborate a little bit.

I get bullied at work, and I want to stand up to the bullies because I'm tired of it.

The usual advice is to be assertive, pull them aside and have a calm talk with them and tell them I don't appreciate their behaviour towards me, and then go to HR if all else fails.

As with most problems in life, the cookie cutter advice falls flat because the issue is stickier than what can be solved by what most articles and videos suggest as a course of action.

I know I could handle asserting myself, I've done it before and I know it wouldn't be that difficult. But when I think about having to change the relationship I've established, one in which I suffer abuse but know the boundaries of my workplace, seems impossible to change. The reason I fear the change is because I don't have faith in my ability to consistently "be" this new assertive person, and I know once I stand up for myself the bullies will be scanning for any sign of weakness.

Also, I know I tend to get very worked up in situations like these, so I'm afraid I'll lose my cool and screw up my chance to fix this.

ALSO, I know these bullies are very immature and will probably just mock me more for standing up to them.


So I'm at this maddening stand still and my anger is just building up. The only way to release it is to deal with the situation, but it seems too daunting in the long run.

I should also add that the bullies are one of my bosses and a couple co-workers, and they are well liked, fit in just fine, and are very passive aggressive and subtle about their bullying. With one exception. I received a forwarded email from a co-worker that was sent to them by one of the bullies, which the bully never intended me to see, and it say "HTC sucks" (not using my real name here). I saved a copy of the email and will be going to HR if nothing changes, but I need help devising a strategy for dealing with this in a professional, assertive way, when I tend to be excitable and overly self deprecating.

Seeing that email really hurt, and I'm fed up.

As you already know most bullies act out of insecurity on some level and they find gratification through provoking others via a kind of power trip.

Personally, I pity those kinds of behaviors as I see bullying as an immature act of insecurity and disrespect. This has helped me in the past and prevented me from reacting in anger to varying types of provocative behaviors.

As you know these type of people like to push boundaries so when you ignore them and they escalate that is generally a sign of their desperation for a response to feed their appetite for that sense of power.

Ignoring that escalation, although difficult can lead to it ending if not, chances are if they're doing it to you then they are probably doing it to someone else.

If you can spot this and if you decide to go to HR then they may be and added resource to having the problem dealt with through proper channels if you feel comfortable approaching them to help resolve the problem. Also the person who forwarded that e-mail to you might they be willing to help you in that regard with HR?

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Beyond that in my experience viewing those actions as immature, insecure behaviors can dull the effects of self doubt and or provoking anger. Which in my opinion makes it easier to either ignore or assert oneself in order to confront the person or persons to deal with the behavior.


MVP, Forum Supporter
Budoaki's advice is excellent...

I remember also you mentioned you got a hold of Feeling Good by David Burns, HTC - there's some amazing techniques and advice in there for getting yourself into a position to manage things like this - and also, for working out what might be the best approach.

Before doing anything, I would definitely recommend you become very familiar with the chapter on anger and work with the exercises in that respect. Some sections in there are more geared towards situations where someone is deliberately trying to get a rise out of you, or where you really do have a genuine complaint about deliberate obnoxiousness in someone. Be sure to stick with it until you get to those bits, and do the suggested exercises.

You are much more likely to get a better outcome - or to know what outcome and what approach you want to look for - if you be sure to take a little time on the position you are in first...

Wish you the best :)

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Oh, it just occurred to me too - a forum like this could even be a cool way to do role-playing, role-reversals, things like that.

Whether you wanted to try that with us here or do it yourself, on paper, out loud or with a friend or therapist/counsellor, I think this could be huge for you. Since the biggest undermining part is often the internal self-talk that gets provoked in these situations, I think it's imperative that you use the techniques and examples from the book to practise cognitive rehearsal, roleplaying, and role-reversals.

Often in these situations, a lot of what is going on is internal thoughts and imaginations about what the other people are thinking, what their motivations are, what they might say; internal thoughts of low self-esteem and inadequacy, too. This is where the anger, hurt, vulnerability, or defensiveness come from. If you can make headway in dismantling the process of how that happens, that of course is half the battle.

---------- Post Merged at 01:18 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 01:01 AM ----------

I've got one last tip for you too which is just from my experience. (Also bear with me not knowing the specific type of bullying behaviour.)

Let's say that you have not even remotely changed your internal dialogue or the feelings that come up, from the bullying behaviour.

Even if that has not yet changed, I'd have to say that one of the most seriously disarming ways of dealing with things like this is:

When you can give the impression, after the person acts in the offensive way, that you are either:

1. Amused. Like the person genuinely made a mildly amusing joke and you are quite happy to laugh at a little joke at your expense.

(Of course, depending on what situation you've got on your hands, maybe you've got people who are then escalating it more and more, after you already do that - until it is very offensive, and extreme.)

Or, that you are:

2. Thinking: "Erm.... okay.... You're a little weird." A very slight air of amusement is often helpful. Maybe a smile, but only a slight one. The best verbal response that I would suggest is just: ".....ooohkayyy...." Perhaps a slight bulge of your eyes. :) I'm sure you've seen this happen in a million comedies and sitcoms. The standard "oooohkayyyy....." that a person gives when someone else does or says something that is just..... freakin' weird. :)

What you want is to convey the message that you are thinking: "Alrighty.... I don't know quite what's going on with you or with your behaviour here...... But umm, it's definitely you; it's not me."

Think about it. The desired response from the bully is to make you feel powerless and uncomfortable - that you somehow deserve what they are doing.

Bullies know, in reality, that it's their behaviour that is wrong and weird, and you don't deserve it.

The moment you know that as well (or give the impression that you know that) - and they know that you know -

- and they know that because of this, you couldn't care less because it isn't your problem, it's theirs - they've lost their power.

You can give the same response no matter how many times the same kind of stuff happens... If it's in the same instance and they are just escalating it, and you are still making your coffee and can't leave the room yet, you can just keep pulling faces.... shake your head... snort.... snicker.... :) .... Or if it's a situation you can't leave, if they're still trying to escalate it, some other responses could be, "...... Good luck with that." or, "Rightio...... I'll be at my desk wondering what your dealio is."

(...and please forgive me of course if it's not stupid schoolyard stuff or just insults or whatever, and they are doing actual things that affect your workflow or something, like putting extra work on you, blaming things on you, getting you into some sort of trouble, or things like that. Also, obviously the trickier situation is the one with your boss rather than when it's just your equals; and you'll have to give some thought to how much of a response would be okay to give when it's him.)

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Was going to post another post on being bullied at work, then I searched the terms "being bullied at work" and read the first couple posts. I read the title of this one without realizing it was my own at first. I guess this problem still exists for me.

I feel desperately furious about my situation at work. It just attacked my consciousness as soon as I woke up, and now I am ready to snap. I don't know what to do. I keep going over and over in my head how this one jerk treats me, asking myself "why me" and "why do other men single me out so often?"

I understand all the arguments of how bullies are insecure, but it doesn't do much to ease my fury. This guy isn't really insecure, he's just a career bigot and career bully. He thinks I'm effeminate, and so he always talks to me in this overly nice, gentle but obviously condescending and mocking way. Just thinking about it right now makes me furious.
Confronting him wouldn't do anything, it would just make it worse in the long run. I know he would return to his old ways, because for a time things had got better. He was treating me with actual respect for a while, then just went back to being a jerk.

It's surreal being me sometimes. Being so unliked and so uncomfortable in so many place and by so many people just makes me hate myself so severely that it feels I'll never be ok. And yes, I have been unliked by so many yada yada yada, that is not exaggeration. I've been mocked pretty consistently for different things almost everywhere I go. Every school, job, etc. I'm the weird one, the sensitive one, the one who would get drunk and do ridiculous things because I am a terrible drunk, I am also the one who gets labeled as gay (there is nothing wrong with being gay, but when people treat you like S*** because they think you are, then there is technically a problem, at least for the victim, trust me) by retards because I don't make an effort to be macho and for some reason people just tend to think that about me.

I'm sick of this, but that's nothing new. I am dealing with so many mental issues and other life issues, and this is just one more stone on the pile that weighs me down. I know I sound like a victim right now, so I apologize for the self important tone. I actually have a head ache I'm so angry.
Dear HTC:

I completely get where you are. I was bullied as a kid for 8 years and even though it's been a life time ago, I have never forgotten the feelings or what I went through. You're in a bad place because this is your job so you have to be careful how you handle yourself. I would definitely save that email in a safe place off-site. I would also find out what my rights were from an outside source in case the worse case scenario pops up. I definitely understand about being able to rise to the occasion when you've been pushed over the top. However, you cannot do that each and every time.


MVP, Forum Supporter
Thinking of you HTC. :(

Bullies are so dumb. And even with others... it's good for people to make an effort to put people at ease, be friendly, and make others feel comfortable, even if another person looks or comes across in a way that is not a stereotype. Plenty of people don't make that strong effort to do that though.

Most people don't have to like you or give off the type of friendly, accepting vibe that you most respond to, hun. Not everyone likes everyone, not everyone gives off the type of vibe that makes another person feel most comfortable. On top of that, plenty of people also probably just act like they like or accept each other, when really they have just never given a jot of thought to what their values are or should be, or how they really feel, or have no courage or interest in being deeper or more authentic in such a way. Instead, just being really careful to completely go along with what's most dominant or common around them.

Lots of people don't have to like you HTC... YOU have to like you.

And once you do, these people and their behaviour will mean a heck of a lot less to you, and you'll have a smaller number of people who mean more, and you'll care very little about the rest. It's hard, but keep going. You will get to that place. xoxo
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